Hawkeye wrestling lands high-reward commitment from small-town Iowa

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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The storied Iowa wrestling program recently got its first commitment of the 2015 recruiting class, as Ida Grove’s Cash Wilcke announced his intentions to attend the University a little over two weeks ago. Wilcke is a homegrown, corn-fed Iowa wrestler and oozes untapped potential.

Ida Grove, Iowa, has a population of only a little over 2,000, and Odebolt-Arthur & Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School isn’t exactly a factory in terms of athletic prowess, but the rural western Iowa town certainly has something, or someone, to be proud of now.

“It’s kind of unheard of to have a state qualifier, let alone a state champion, around where I’m from,” Wilcke said. “A while back they had a really good team with a bunch of state qualifiers and place winners, but ever since then it kind of dropped off.”

Wilcke had a brother go through the same high school at that time, which is how he originally got into wrestling, and had a chance to personally experience the school’s glory days. Ironically, the younger one single-handedly halted the drop-off after the era of the elder Wilcke.

“By Christmas of his freshman year, he was the dominant alpha-male in our wrestling room,” high school wrestling coach Randy Nieman said. “Even in eighth grade, you just knew he was going to be very good at whatever he did. He’s a very natural athlete. I told him then ‘if you work hard, you’re going to have basically whatever you want.’”

Also a skilled football player, Nieman says that Wilcke began to seriously pursue wrestling, and with the increase in focus came a new level of success.

“He hasn’t had that great room to work in,” Nieman said. “But he’s well traveled and has been through lots of clinics. I think some of his best development has been when he’s had those Division-I wrestlers and Division-I coaches working with him. So he’s going to be so much more successful when he’s put in that Iowa room with that coaching staff.”

It’s exciting to hear that somebody as talented as Wilcke should still have his best days ahead of him, particularly with such a noticeable step up in terms of training facilities. Wilcke has already had a successful career throughout high school that should inspire Hawkeye fans about how good he could be down the line.

The 182-pounder won consecutive USA Wrestling Folkstyle National championships in 2012 and 2013, and also won the Class 2A state tournament at 182 pounds in 2014.

Wilcke has impressed spectators for several years now, and many believe that his skills will be able to translate to success in his tenure at Iowa whenever he should crack the lineup. Jeff Budlong of the Sioux City Journal followed Wilcke’s career closely in recent years, and is among the believers.

“For his size, he moves very well; especially when you try to project how he might fit in at the college level,” Budlong said. “He’s an athletic bigger wrestler. Some guys just try to be big and rely on their strength, and while Cash does have strength, he also has the ability to move around the mat and work those ankles.”

Budlong feels that Wilcke fits the mold perfectly for a Hawkeye wrestler, and believes that fans could see another small-time to big-time story for the black and gold.

“It comes down to potential,” Budlong said. “The Iowa staff loves to bring in those blue-chippers who obviously has talent and has succeeded, but they probably see somebody they can get in the room and work with and take to even another level.”

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